"Yesterday the Kremlin said it would close the British Council and our Consulate in St Petersburg. These futile measures will only punish ordinary Russians by depriving them of harmless opportunities to learn English and apply for UK visas," UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson wrote in his op-ed article for The Sun newspaper published on March 18.
Despite the warnings from the UK minister, the visa center in St Petersburg has issued a notice that despite the UK consulate in the city being closed, Russian citizens can still apply for UK visas and no limitations will be imposed. However, it warns potential applicants that the process of approval may take longer than before, urging all who wish to apply to do so in advance (at least 1,5 months before the estimated date of their trip).
London has accused Moscow of poisoning ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal using a military-grade nerve agent and announced the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats from the country, downgrading the level of bilateral relations. In response to what Moscow calls "unproven accusations," the Russian foreign ministry announced a tit-for-tat measure against British diplomats, as well as the closure of the UK consulate in St Petersburg.